The eighth and latest Mac Maguire mystery has now been published in Amazon Books. Here’s the official blurb –
‘Mac is on his way back to Ireland for a funeral when a body is found at the airport. A man has been stabbed three times in the back and Mac volunteers to help his police colleagues. He’s flying back to Donegal where he hopes to find out something about the victim’s background.
It appears that the dead man was ‘a chancer and romancer’ and Mac has his work cut out delving into his numerous, and mostly nefarious, dealings in the north of Ireland. With the help of a troubled colleague from the Irish Police Mac soon discovers that the murder in the airport has set off a ticking time bomb that will soon explode.
Mac finds himself delving into his own past as his childhood memories of Donegal come flooding back and an old family mystery is also solved.’
I’ve found that the major challenge in writing a series is not just in writing a good one-off murder mystery but also around how you can gradually reveal things about the main characters as the series progresses. This process rewards those readers who have devoted time in reading the series by fleshing out those characters, making them more complex and, therefore, more real.
Mac was born in Birmingham to Irish parents (as I was) and his Irish background is an important, although problematic, part of his life. In this book he ‘goes home’ to Donegal and this stimulates memories of times he’d thought he’d all but forgotten.
As the plot develops he finds that he has to go to Derry. It’s a beautiful city but it’s also one that still bears the scars of a sectarian war that lasted over thirty years, a war that is still simmering away in some parts. During The Troubles the city became so split between its two communities that one side of the river is predominantly Catholic while the other is mostly Protestant and they have the flags and murals to prove it. They even have two names for the city – Derry, if you’re Catholic, and Londonderry, if you’re Protestant. Every July there is a plague of ‘Loyalist’ bonfire building like the one shown here. Piles of pallets are burnt along with effigies of the Pope and Irish flags. This is unfortunately also accompanied by a convulsion of violence from both communities. However, although some of the vitriolic hatred still remains, it must be recognised that the city has come a long way since the days when the two communities were more or less at open war with each other.
Mac has to think about all the issues that get raised during his time in Ireland as memories, both good and bad, come back thick and fast. With the aid of a storyteller he also manages to solve a long-standing family mystery.
This is a book I’ve enjoyed writing but it’s also one that has made me think about my ‘Irishness’. I have Irish sensibilities in that I love conversation and the ‘craic‘ but as soon as I open my mouth people think I’m English. For years I felt that I didn’t really belong in either community and this was only resolved when I identified exactly what my true ethnicity was. I now claim to be ‘Birmingham Irish’ in that I come from a particular ethnic group in a particular location. Interestingly, I found this straddling of two communities but feeling that you belonged to neither quite common in many people I met recently when I was on holiday in Larnaca. They were Cypriots who, like me, were also brought up in England and our experiences were so incredibly similar that I felt an instant kinship with them.
Anyway, while you will hopefully understand Mac’s character a little better, I hope that first and foremost ‘The Chancer’ is an intriguing and entertaining murder mystery. You can let me know what you think by reviewing the book on Amazon and I’m always happy to hear from my readers via my email at firstname.lastname@example.org